Posts tagged ‘Flash fiction’

Flash fiction: The Ice Cream Competition

writingprompt1

The ice cream Jeff had made looked beautiful…all the colors swirled just right, an invitation to the perfect creamy summer treat.

But the flavors were all wrong.

Red tasted like orange, instead of raspberry or cherry. Or even apple.

The orange tasted like licorice.

Green looked like mint or pistachio. But it tasted like popcorn.

Yellow tasted like…he tasted it again…sunshine. Nothing else to describe it. It was wonderful on the tongue, fruity and fresh and creamy and sweet and tart—not too tart—all at once. But it was supposed to be lemon. He dipped his finger back into the left-over yellow and closed his eyes as the flavor tingled each taste bud.

Blue should’ve been blueberry. Yet it had a distinct garlic taste. Garlic ice cream? Really? As if he would ever do that!

And the purple. Worst of all. It tasted just like tunafish.

He saw the three judge’s faces crinkle in disgust as they tasted his rainbow ice cream cone. He would not be winning this competition.

Crud! He’d pulled out all the stops to win. The judges owned this famous creamery and were looking for a young up-and-coming partner. What could’ve happened?

He gazed over at the creamery’s famous Wall of Flavors just in time to see Michael messing with the “licorice” and “orange” labels two of the flavoring bottles. Well. That explained how his flavors got mixed up. But they would never have tunafish and garlic. He glared at his competitor.

But wait…that sunshine flavor still filled his mouth.

The judges hadn’t seen Michael switching the labels. Or the two presumably smelly containers that looked just like the Wall of Flavors bottles that practically hung out of the man’s apron pockets.

They were too busy gushing over Michael’s peppermint mocha ice cream.

He strode over to his competitor. “Funny joke, Michael. Switching the labels on the bottles.”

He shrugged. “Whatever it takes to win.”

True. With Michael as his competitor, it would have been smart to taste his ice cream bases before putting them in the ice cream maker. But he’d been making so many different flavors, he hadn’t had time. His overconfidence had beaten him.

“It’s okay. I just have one question.”

Michael shrugged again.

“Which label did you switch with the lemon flavoring?” He leaned against the wall nonchalantly.

Michael pointed. “The yellow one over there without the label. Banana? I don’t know.”

Thank goodness. “Like I said, funny joke,” he responded, as though it made no difference. Michael walked over to where the prize ceremony was getting ready to start.

Jeff sauntered over to where Michael had pointed on the Wall of Flavors and picked up the small yellow bottle without the label. He opened it and sniffed. Definitely not banana. It was that sunshine flavor.

He looked around. Everyone else was focused on the awarding of the prize to Michael. No one was looking.

He stuck it in his pocket.

Then he left.

This could make all the difference.

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FLASH FICTION: Christmas at Ground Control

Mission_control_center

He tapped the steering wheel in frustration at the slowing traffic.

Astronaut Shelly Fender had been in space for 461 days, fifteen hours, seven minutes—he glanced at his watch—and thirty-four seconds.

They’d miss the window to get her back to earth for Christmas with her little boy if he didn’t get into mission control posthaste. He was the flight director, and today was the last window of opportunity before Christmas.

Just ahead, a cow was walking nonchalantly down the freeway. He screeched his tires to avoid it, swerving a bit before coming to a stop in the shoulder.

Not one cow. A herd.

Ah … an overturned cattle truck up ahead.

Traffic would be a mess for hours. He punched numbers into his phone.

Ten minutes later, he heard a helicopter approaching.

It would be an unconventional commute, but that kid would not miss another Christmas with his mama.

Merry Christmas Blessings,

Voni

Picture credit:  https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Mission_control_center.jpg

FLASH FICTION FEATURE: Amryn Cross

This is week three of my Flash Fiction Feature, introducing you to some of my awesome Christian writer friends. For the month of June, I challenged four of them to write a flash fiction piece for my blog…only I sent each of them the same photograph as inspiration. It has been fun to see how each one took the same photo and wrote such different stories! Tune in each Saturday of June to check it out…and leave a comment for a chance at the weekly GIVEAWAY! I’m so excited.

Please welcome the fabulous Amryn Cross!!

Amryn Cross

Amryn Cross is a forensic scientist and author of romantic suspense novels. As a lover of college football, Shakespeare, superheroes, and traveling, she is drawn to complex characters who aren’t always what they seem. Her novels are character-driven stories of people who face down some of life’s darkest moments and learn to reconcile that darkness with God’s light. She refers to these as “between the shadow and the soul” moments. Amryn is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers and My Book Therapy.

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And here is the photo with which I challenged Amryn, and the other three writers.

Bark_Cabin_Wood_-_geograph.org.uk_-_1322

By Amryn Cross

What a beautiful place for a murder.

Detective Amelia Soren knew better than to voice that, of course, but it didn’t make it any less true. Then again, this particular killer, who she’d been one step behind for months, did have a flair for the dramatic.

The mist currently drying on her bare face and arms gave the slender branches and moss covered rocks an ethereal feel. Something nearly palpable hung in the air, surrounding her and the body nearly buried in the leaves behind her. Was it fear? No. Amelia had never had much use for that. Still, something held her back from her usual all-encompassing examination of the body. All her senses remained on high alert.

Maybe she shouldn’t have followed this lead alone. Such was the burden of being ahead of the curve. Her partner said she thought too much like the killers they were trying to catch, but that was exactly the point. He’d thought she was crazy for following hunches in the past, but now she had a body to show for it. Plunging her hand into her pocket, she pulled out her cell phone and groaned. No reception.

Well, that settled it. She’d have to take photos on her phone and try to protect any evidence from the elements until she could hike back out of the forest and call for back up.

With each step she took in a wide circle around the body, her feet sunk into the spongy ground. A sharp bite of wind prickled the hair on her arms and the back of her neck.

Amelia froze, though she wasn’t sure why. Instinct. She’d learned long ago not to second guess them. With another scan of the forest surrounding her, she noticed for the first time how much the bare branches resembled bony fingers stretching to the sky—from the grave, reaching for salvation. It was enough to make her shiver.

Behind her, a branch snapped, and she whirled, gun drawn and at ready.

“Who’s there?” She was surprised at how steady her voice sounded given that she felt anything but.

After a moment of stillness, a shadow stepped from behind a tree about ten yards from her.  She recognized the silhouette immediately, and nearly dropped her gun in surprise.

“Fancy meeting you here.”

THE END

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See why I just had to introduce her to you?

I encourage you to leave a comment below for a chance to win an electronic copy of Amryn’s Learning to Die. I’ll draw from all the commenters on Wednesday.

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Learning to Die

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A ghost running for her life…
Emily Fox died ten years ago, but she’s not dead enough for Endriago—head of the Colombian drug cartel who murdered her brother while she looked on.
A past she can’t escape…
Now living in Miami as criminalist Kate James and under the protection of the U.S. Marshals, Emily is explosively reunited with her past, propelling her headlong into a web of corruption.
A man who threatens everything…
Two men stand in her way—one threatens her heart, the other her life. Both underestimate her. Because in the race to solve her brother’s murder, she has nothing left to lose.

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Check out Amryn’s other books on Amazon, too, or connect with her here: 

And, of course…Tune in next Saturday. Amanda Holland was the next writer to accept my challenge and write a story inspired by the same photo. Another giveaway, too!!

Blessings, Voni

Photo credit: Paul Baxter http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Bark_Cabin_Wood_-_geograph.org.uk_-_1322.jpg

http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/1322

FLASH FICTION FEATURE: Heather Gilbert

Today begins my new Flash Fiction Feature! I know some awesome Christian writers whom I’d like to introduce to you. For the month of June, I challenged four of them to write a flash fiction piece for my blog…only I sent each of them the same photograph as inspiration. It has been fun to see how each one took the same photo and wrote such different stories! Tune in each Saturday of June to check it out…and leave a comment for a chance at the weekly GIVEAWAY! I’m so excited.

First up is the awesome Heather Gilbert!

Heather Gilbert

Heather Day Gilbert writes character-driven novels that go beyond the vows, capturing the triumphs and heartaches unique to married couples. A graduate of Bob Jones University, she’s been married to her sweet Yankee husband for eighteen years. After eleven years of homeschooling and eight years of writing, she really doesn’t have many hobbies. Born and raised in the West Virginia mountains, she believes that bittersweet, generational stories are in her blood.

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And here is the photo with which I challenged her, and the other three writers.

Bark_Cabin_Wood_-_geograph.org.uk_-_1322

Solace

By Heather Day Gilbert

How many times had she come here over the past few months, trying to remember the specific timbre of his deep voice? To recall the roughness of his calloused hands, as they clasped hers? No matter how hard she tried, she couldn’t summon the sounds and images to her mind’s eye.

The oversized rocks lay strangely juxtaposed, as if some giant had tossed them like dice down the hill. A heavy coating of moss confirmed that the sun rarely kissed this side of the forest. For so many years, this had been a flowerless secret garden for them, a haven that enabled them to articulate the dreams they hadn’t realized they had.

Now the rocks did not comfort her as before, but reflected the harshness of the scattered barren trees. Gently resting her head on the thick moss, she allowed her gaze to trail upward. The white sky seemed blank and closed, just like heaven had felt for her lately. No spark of love, no answers to her questions.

An anger that had tormented her began to rise like bile in her throat. This deep in the woods, she could give voice to the injustice, shout at the deaf heavens. Her scream filled the air.

“Why, God!? Why him? You should have taken me, not my husband!”

In those early days, when the news sank in that he’d been killed on assignment, she was sure God would step in visibly to comfort her. Whisper in her ear at night, maybe show her an angel…anything. Possibly she was waiting for a Lazarus-style miracle in which someone would tell her it was all a mistake, that it wasn’t his flag-draped coffin that had shipped over.

All she needed was assurance that God understood the grief she couldn’t even put into words.

Yet days went by with no sign. Casseroles and flowers flooded in, accompanied by sad looks of friends and family. No one knew what to say.

That’s when she began to return to the rocky enclave, hoping God would stoop to meet her there and kindly explain why this had to happen.

But each time, she was met with the resounding silence of nature. Not one rabbit or squirrel interrupted her earnest, yet fruitless, quest.

Today would be the last day, she had decided. Her one last attempt to break through the opaque curtain that God had drawn around Himself. Yet even as her scream died, nothing changed.

Until.

Until one still-green leaf fluttered onto her chest and landed on her heart. The leaf itself was heart-shaped. They used to lie here, marveling at the extensive shade that very catalpa tree could provide in the heat of summer.

As she clutched the leaf, deflected sunlight broke the cloud cover and shafted directly onto her. Some would say this was a coincidence. But she knew what it was.

Her refreshed soul sang the words of truth. “He has always loved you, and He always will.”

THE END

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See what I mean? Awesome, right?

I encourage you to leave a comment below for a chance to win an electronic copy of Heather’s latest book Trial By Twelve. I’ll draw from all the commenters on Wednesday. 

Trial by Twelve

trialbytwelve_fc_2

Tess Spencer loves her low-key job at the Crystal Mountain Spa, which allows her plenty of down-time with her one-year old daughter and lawyer husband, Thomas. But when a pool installation turns up eight skeletons in the spa’s back yard, Tess becomes entangled in a sleuthing job destined to go awry.

As the investigation gets underway, someone dumps a fresh body near the excavated burial site, confirming unspeakable fears. A serial killer has returned to Buckneck, West Virginia…a skilled hunter with a unique taste in prey.

When Tess agrees to help the cunning Detective Tucker gather clues from the inside, she discovers the posh spa hides more than dead bodies. Even as she sifts through layers of deceit, Tess realizes too late that the killer’s sights have zeroed in on her.

Unpredictable psychological mystery replete with memorable characters, Trial by Twelve is Book Two in A Murder in the Mountains series.

This novel is written from a Christian worldview.

Check out Heather’s other books on Amazon, too.

And, of course…Tune in next Saturday. Kelli Hughett was the next author to accept my challenge and write a story inspired by the same photo. Another giveaway, too!!

Blessings, Voni

Photo credit: Paul Baxter http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Bark_Cabin_Wood_-_geograph.org.uk_-_1322.jpg

http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/1322

Flash Fiction: Misbegotten

Detective Jensen nearly slammed his notebook to the forest floor. The forensic tech would take hours combing the misbegotten turquoise van for the merest possibility of clues.

Brain spinning, he thought of the grisly murder at the townhouse. What woman did such a thing?

Where was she? Not here.

But she obviously knew enough to distract them with the stupid van.

Wait! The van didn’t have clues. It was the clue.

…And someone close by restored vintage vehicles. Always had a slew of them hanging around his property.

“Charley!” The forensic tech jogged over. “Where’s your wife?”

He blanched. “I don’t know.”

Jensen quirked an eyebrow, looking steadily at the man.

Flash Fiction Friday: That’s All It Took?

Balloon ride

THAT’S ALL IT TOOK?

Flash Fiction by Voni Harris

He was nervous.

That’s why he slopped the dollop of mustard down the front of his shirt. Went perfectly with the already stinking baby spit-up from his last client’s baby.

He’d shouldn’t have stopped at the sidewalk vendor on his way out to his car, even if it was destined to be a late dinner. Now there was no time to change before he met her.

Fortunately, there was an extra shirt in his car.

Unfortunately, it was his yellow shirt with large dots of many shades of green. Perfect for alumni events, with jeans. Not so perfect with his blue pin-striped suit pants.

Better than smelly baby spit-up and a mustard blotch. He quickly switched shirts at the side of the road. Glancing at his watch, he saw he was cutting it close, and he needed to impress tonight. She was looking for romance tonight; she’d made that clear.

He pulled up outside her office. She gave his clothes a quizzical look through the window, then waved and came lightly running out to the car with a smile, full skirt flowing behind her. He got out and walked around to open the door for her…

…just in time to knock her off the curb and send her rolling onto the lawn.

“Are you okay?” he asked, reaching to help her up.

She dusted the grass off her backside.

“Perfectly fine,” she answered, then frowned. “However, my shoe is not.” She held it up for his inspection. The heel of the left shoe was rolling in the gutter.

“Sorry about that,” he mumbled, embarrassed.

“That’s okay.” She opened her voluminous purse and pulled out a pair of flats. “I came prepared.” She slid onto the car seat and slipped on the flats, tossing the heels in the back seat.

Great. Just great. This date was supposed to knock her socks off, not break her shoes!

He closed her door for her, then walked around and started the car. She teased about his clothes, chattered about her day, and there had never been a faster 45-minute drive. With her in the car, even the pot holes after they turned onto the dirt road didn’t annoy him.

This was a woman he intended to impress and keep impressed.

 

They pulled up in front of a barn and parked. She took one look at the sign and squealed. “A hot-air balloon ride? Seriously? I can’t wait.”

Score!

She dug a ponytail holder from the depths of her purse and pulled her hair back to combat the wind while he walked around the car and opened the door for her.

The balloonist came walking over. The man rocked back and forth on his heels as he greeted them. “Sorry to give you bad news. I was hoping this wind was going to die down by the time you got here, but it increased instead. It’s too heavy for us to go up tonight. We’ll have to reschedule.”

He looked up to see her face fall, and his stomach fell to his feet.

“I’m sorry.” he told her, grinding his toe into the dirt.

“Not your fault.” She deliberately put a smile on her face. “Nor yours,” she told the balloonist, who smiled back in relief.

She turned to look at him. “Now what?” she asked.

He hoped she didn’t just write off the whole date. “We could go on to the restaurant. I was a little worried we wouldn’t make our reservation, anyway, and it’s quite a drive.”

“Let’s do it!” They waved to the balloonist as he drove away and slid into their seats.

That’s when the car refused to start. It wouldn’t even turn over. He got out, muttering a prayer, and looked under the hood. He saw the problem and hooked the loose wire back up.

The car still wouldn’t start.

He got out of the car again. That is when he noticed the pool of liquid under the gas tank; one of the pot holes must have caused the obvious hole in the tank.

At least they came across a field of wild flowers as they walked around, waiting on the tow truck. A girl seeking romance had to have flowers, right? He picked her a mess of them and hoped she’d not notice that he’d forgotten to order a bouquet for the night.

Sitting between him and the tow truck driver on their way back into town, she rubbed her arm where she’d been stung by the bee he’d unwittingly picked along with the flowers. Loud and twangy country music on the radio kept them from any conversation, but she did he reach over and take his hand.

They left the car at a repair shop near the restaurant and walked down the street, still holding hands.

That’s when they were deluged by the storm the wind had been blowing in. They took off jogging and pushed into the restaurant soaking wet.

The maitre d’ inside looked them up and down and gave a self-satisfied smile as he tapped his notebook. They’d missed their reservation time after all.

They ran to the restaurant next door. The wait was over ninety minutes. She tapped his arm, “It’s getting late at this point. McDonald’s is across the street.”

McDonald's

McDonald’s. I am such a clod.

But he couldn’t take her home hungry after all he put her through. He sighed in agreement, and they ran through the rain once more.

McDonald’s. So this is where our perfect date ends up.

Fifteen minutes later, she took a huge bite of her burger as she ran her fries through a pile of ketchup.

She threw her head back in laughter. “This has been the most perfect date night!”

His jaw dropped.

“I love being married to you,” she said, her sky-blue eyes sparkling.

With no idea what to say, he just grabbed her hand. And held on.

 

The end

 

Blessings,

Voni

 

Flash Fiction Friday: The Valentine’s Mistake

iphone

“Will you be my Valentine?”

His hand paused above the send button on the text message he’d just typed; it was shaking, if you looked hard enough to notice.

He looked around his office. Empty. Through the open door he could see several people gathered at the water cooler, but no one was watching.

He clicked send, then tossed his phone on the desk.

Quickly turning to his computer, he got back to work, putting out of his mind the consequences of what he had just done.

Two minutes later, the phone buzzed, alerting him that a text had come in.

The consequences.

His whole body felt like a giant exclamation point. He shook it off.

I’ll check it later. I’ve got work.

And he did work.

For about forty-seven seconds.

Could be that text I’m expecting from Mr. Houghton over at Houghton Associates.

Unable to ignore the firm’s biggest client, he pushed his chair away from the computer and picked up his phone.

It was from his wife. What does Sheila want to nag me about now?

Suddenly, his body went on high alert.

Consequences.

But how could she possibly…

He rotated his shoulders to relieve the sudden tension. Might as well get it over with.

He clicked through to her text.

“Yes! Of course I’ll be your Valentine, Samuel! You’ve been sooo distracted lately, but then I know how your job can get when you’re closing a big deal. How about we go to Italiano’s for supper? I’ll call Debbie to babysit. She could keep the kids at her house for the night.”

Frowning, he pulled up his original text.

Yup. He’d sent it to Sheila.

He’d meant to send it to Allison. Kind of an icebreaker for the obvious attraction between them.

He returned to Sheila’s message and was surprised to find himself smiling. She’d always insisted on calling him Samuel and not Sam. With the smile, a thought dawned on him.

He grabbed his phone before the idea could leave and began tapping keys.

“Call Debbie, but instead of Italiano’s I think we’ll go through the driveway at McDonald’s and eat in the car at the harbor and watch the ships come in. I love you, Sheila.”

He found himself blushing at the remembrance of taking her to the harbor for the first time on their first date. McDonald’s included. He’d been embarrassed at his lack of funds.

But they’d stayed there in the car, talking, until 2 AM.

Scrolling to Allison’s name on the contacts list, Sam quickly punched “delete contact.”

He’d have to find a different spin class.

He wasn’t going to make this mistake again.

 

The End

Blessings,

Voni

P.S. My Barometer Mountain 52-week Photo Challenge will be posted on Monday. Unless I post it on Tuesday like I did the last two weeks. 🙂 At any rate, please check it out! No guarantees, but there may be sunshine in this picture.